Denny Hamlin‘s hometown of Chesterfield, Virginia is approximately twenty miles away from Richmond Raceway, making it his NASCAR Cup Series home circuit. A little pit strategy earned him his fifth career win at the track as his fresher tyres allowed him to pass William Byron with five laps remaining and pull away for his first win of 2022.
Hamlin started thirteenth while Ryan Blaney was on the pole. The former’s 23XI Racing ally Kurt Busch was responsible for the first caution when his fuel pressure died ten laps in. Blaney would led every lap of the opening stage to win ahead of Byron, Ross Chastain, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.
While Stage #2 was incident-free, pit stops dominated the segment as each team tested out various methods to maximise their track time on each setup. Hamlin and Toyota’s alternative strategy allowed Joe Gibbs Racing team-mates Bell and Truex to lead laps, as did Blaney’s Team Penske compatriot Logano. Bell led much of the stage before being passed by Truex for the eventual stage victory. Chastain, Logano, Blaney, Elliott, Harvick, Busch, Kyle Larson, and Keselowski followed.
Six laps into the third stage, Cody Ware hit Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after he was turned by Erik Jones, prompting Ware to tweet about “[n]o respect (being) given back to me when I try to give it to everyone.” Another wreck came five laps following the ensuing restart when Ty Dillon and Cole Custer made contact and Austin Cindric was caught in the crossfire.
The race resumed on lap 264 with Byron leading. Like in the previous segment, pit stops were a critical factor as Hamlin elected to pit twice in Stage #3, while others like Byron opted to do one. Although Byron led much of the final stage, it slowly grew clear that Hamlin and his newer tyres had the advantage as he chased him down. Hamlin caught the leader and passed him with five laps remaining.
Although Harvick—who also made two stops—tried to follow, he was unable to close the gap enough as Hamlin secured his fifth win at Richmond and first since 2016. He is also the first Toyota driver to win a 2022 Cup race, while Ty Gibbs‘ victory in the previous day’s Xfinity Series event gave JGR a weekend sweep.
“You just have a tough season and things aren’t going well,” said Hamlin. “It seems like everything is not going your way and the law of averages say things are going to work out and we’ll get our performance better, and today’s the day where it all matched up.
“I just rely on the crew chief (Chris Gabehart) and his information to me says we are going to be racing this guy and this guy. As long as you run this pace and do everything you can in traffic, you’ve got a great shot to win. I don’t pay attention to where we were or anything. He told me where the leaders were. I just drove the car as smooth as I could.
“I love this track and the techniques that it takes to get around here. I watched some of the greatest short track racers in the world at Southside Speedway and Langley. I’ve learned so much from those guys watching from the stands. When I finally got the opportunity to apply it for myself, I did.”
|1||13||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|2||7||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|3||2||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|4||6||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|5||21||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|6||9||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|7||1||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||400||Running|
|8||28||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|9||3||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||400||Running|
|10||25||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|11||4||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|12||16||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|13||19||6||Brad Keselowski||RFK Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|14||15||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|15||18||17||Chris Buescher||RFK Racing||Ford||400||Running|
|16||14||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||400||Running|
|17||11||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||399||Running|
|18||17||21||Harrison Burton||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||399||Running|
|19||8||1||Ross Chastain||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||399||Running|
|20||20||2||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||399||Running|
|21||10||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||398||Running|
|22||12||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||398||Running|
|23||5||43||Erik Jones||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||398||Running|
|24||30||42||Ty Dillon||Petty GMS Motorsports||Chevrolet||398||Running|
|25||22||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||397||Running|
|26||29||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||397||Running|
|27||26||16||A.J. Allmendinger*||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||396||Running|
|28||32||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||396||Running|
|29||36||31||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||396||Running|
|30||24||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||395||Running|
|31||31||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||392||Running|
|32||23||77||Landon Cassill*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||390||Running|
|33||35||15||J.J. Yeley*||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||390||Running|
|34||34||78||B.J. McLeod||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||386||Running|
|35||27||45||Kurt Busch||23XI Racing||Toyota||291||Running|
|36||33||51||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||241||Accident|
|37||37||44||Greg Biffle||NY Racing Team||Chevrolet||96||Suspension|
* – Ineligible for Cup points